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C LASSICS 36: L ECTURE T WENTY -T WO A STRING OF CAUSES ’: THE STOICS ON FREE - WILL AND PREDESTINATION 1. Determinism 1.1 God's control over cosmos manifested as causal determinism: all events occur in an unbroken, inevitable, and (in theory) perfectly predictable sequence of cause and effect; nothing happens without cause, everything is planned by god (p.180, top; p.184-5, Aulus Gellius §1) 1.2 Contrast Epicurus and the atomic 'swerve' (Lecture 16 §3). To be in the power of a fate beyond your ken would be as disturbing as being in the power of capricious gods. Stoics respond: but the god in whose power we are is not capricious, but perfectly wise. (Q. Would you willingly enslave yourself to a master whom you believed perfectly wise?) 1.3 Contrast Plato and Aristotle, who admitted the existence of the merely contingent, that which could have been otherwise (e.g. 'Socrates is going for a walk', vs. 'Socrates thinks rationally'). 1.4 Given that the Stoics thought of cosmos (= god) as a living and intelligent creature, why couldn’t they imagine some of its actions too be merely contingent — like the intelligent Socrates happening to go for a walk? Why must all
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This note was uploaded on 06/08/2008 for the course CLASSIC 36 taught by Professor Ferrari during the Spring '08 term at University of California, Berkeley.

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